Imagine yourself arriving at your destination at 1 am, exhausted and already dreaming about laying on a comfortable bed, only to find out that the hotel’s front desk is closed and you can’t check in.
Unforeseen circumstances, such as delayed flights, unexpected traffic, or even a sudden change in your itinerary, can lead to late arrivals. Uncertainty about the hotel’s late check-in policies can cause anxiety and inconvenience.
In this article, I will share with you everything you need to know about late check-ins at hotels.
Can You Check Into A Hotel Late?
Given that the hotel’s reception runs 24/7 or until your arrival time and you have told them about your arrival, you should not face any issues.
However, some hotels, especially budget ones, may have their front desk closed by certain hours. If you come after that without informing anyone, there may not be anyone waiting for you. And they may charge a late check-in fee.
Checking in specifically refers to collecting your keys when you first come in. Once you have the room key, you are free to come and go anytime, regardless of the hours.
Read the hotel’s policy before making a booking. Contact them if you have to arrive outside of the stated check-in hours as they may have to make necessary adjustments to ensure a smooth check-in process for you.
What Time Is Check-in For Hotels?
Most hotels’ standard check-in times start at around 2 pm to 4 pm. You can check in after this but your room may not be available before the stated time. Check-in time often starts in the afternoon to give hotel staff ample time to change the bedding, clean the rooms, and replace necessary supplies.
Some hotels will notify you about the check-in time on the day of your booking.
If not, you can still call them or visit their website.
What Is Considered Late Check-in At A Hotel?
Although the majority of hotels let you check in at 3 pm, it doesn’t mean you have to check in at that point, unless it’s an Airbnb and you have to arrange to meet the host. The hotel will give you a check-in period, for example from 2 pm to 9 pm. You are free to come in anytime during the stated hours and someone will be ready to assist.
Some hotels, especially luxurious ones, run a check-in desk 24/7. Regardless of your arrival time, someone will be here to help you settle in and you don’t have to pay additional fees. There is usually no need to inform them about your late arrival as well.
For many budget hotels, their check-in counters will close after certain hours. It can be possible to arrange a late check-in with a fee, but some hotels may not be able to entertain your request at all due to staff shortages or logistic issues. Therefore, you should check with the hotel before booking your stay.
For other hotels, a receptionist will be there all night. However, they may still charge you a late check-in fee. A lot of these hotels will consider 9 pm to 10 pm to be the start of late check-in hours.
Do Hotels Charge For Late Check-in?
Generally, whether a hotel charges a late check-in fee relates a lot to the hotel’s status. Premium accommodations tend to waive this charge while most budget hotels will enforce it.
The late check-in fees can range from $10 to $100 or more. When you book your accommodation, the hotel will list its extra charges according to the check-in time. For example, late check-in between 10 pm to 12 am will cost $10 extra but anytime between 12 am to 5 am will be $50.
For walk-in guests without a booking, a late check-in charge usually doesn’t apply. Guests will only have to pay for the per-night rate if there is any availability. However, the walk-in rates are often much higher than usual and you aren’t guaranteed a room, so, it is not advised to skip a booking just to try your luck in getting rid of the late check-in fee.
Hotel staff will not wait for guests after work hours as they will assume you just aren’t coming. Therefore, hotels with a 24-hour front desk can accommodate late arrivals better, especially in unforeseen situations where you couldn’t inform the hotel early.
In any case, their policies can be found on their websites or on the booking platform you use. You can check the possible associated fees before making a reservation. This way, you won’t be surprised that an additional cost is listed in your accommodation bill. It avoids letting the hotel overcharge you as well since you are aware of the exact amount due.
Can A Hotel Cancel Your Booking For Checking In Late?
For most hotels, yes, but it will still depend on each hotel’s policy. When you book a room, you will see various clauses included in the agreement. Usually, one will state under what circumstances the hotel reserves the right to cancel your booking without compensation.
Arriving late is a valid reason for the hotel to cancel your booking. They will assume that you have forfeited your stay by not showing up and you won’t be eligible for a refund. You must check the clause to know the exact time frame you have. Sometimes, it is until 1 am, other times, until 7 am the next day.
If a hotel cancels your booking and you arrive, they don’t necessarily have to offer you a room. A lot of hotels will extend the courtesy and reinstate your booking. Unfortunately, it is not guaranteed. You may have to pay for another room at the same property or find yourself a new hotel.
It is always good to inform the hotel about your late arrival. This way, it allows the hotel to make necessary adjustments and be aware of your intention to come.
Are Hotels Open All Night?
Regardless of location, some hotels are open all night. There are staff assisting guests at all hours. Even though hotels typically have staff working at the front desk, other services, such as catering and spa treatments, may be reduced or removed until the morning.
Sometimes, the hotel may not be able to address your concerns immediately. For example, issues with water pressure or dirty rooms may have to wait until the maintenance team or cleaning crew is back. The receptionist may switch you to another room, given the availability, but they likely can’t fix these issues.
How Can I Avoid Checking In Late At Hotels?
Reserve extra time
To avoid chaos, you should always reserve extra time for your travels. Estimate your arrival time as accurately as possible and give it an extra hour or two for unforeseen situations, such as delayed flights, traffic, getting lost, etc.
It’s important to understand that it will always take more time to navigate your way in a new place. Google may tell you it takes 30 minutes on the metro to your hotel. Still, you have to think about figuring out the transport system, buying a ticket, and finding your way to the right platform. These are things that feel as easy as breathing in your home city but a nightmare in a foreign town.
Choose suitable accommodation
Choosing the right place to stay will save you a stressful journey and the fear of not meeting the check-in time. Conduct research first about the hotels in your travel destination and check their policies regarding check-in and check-out rules.
Some travelers don’t like to plan ahead. It’s fine to go with the flow as long as you are prepared. You might find booking hotels with 24/7 reception much more convenient.
Read the hotel’s policy before making a booking
As mentioned, if you show up late and fail to give prior notice, they can cancel your reservation without a refund. This will be particularly bad for a multi-day stay.
For example, you have booked a three-day stay but only show up on the second day without informing the hotel. Then, the hotel may have already canceled your entire booking. The room can be allocated to another traveler by then and you are forced to find another place to stay.
If the rules are unclear, contact the hotel and ask for an explanation.
Communicate with the hotel
Keep the habit of alerting the hotel about your late arrivals. Although there’s the saying that “customers are king”, it doesn’t always apply to checking in late. You don’t want to be standing in front of an empty reception with no one to call at 12 am.
Can You Check In Earlier Than The Stated Check-in Time?
Some hotels are willing to check you in early without an extra fee if your room is available, while other hotels adhere strictly to their standard check-in time unless you have sent a request in advance. Without prior arrangements, whether you can check in early on that day will be entirely based on the hotel’s management.
Therefore, if you have a specific check-in requirement, such as arriving at 7 am, it is essential to inform the hotel first to make sure your room will be ready. The hotel will charge you an early check-in fee, which is usually half the per-night rate of your accommodation.
How Late Can I Check Out From A Hotel?
The standard check-out time in most places is between 10 am to 11 am. It gives hotel staff plenty of time to prepare the rooms for their next guests. But, this stated time is hardly a rock-solid deadline.
You will be given a grace period to make your way to the check-out counter before a staff member comes pounding on your door. Typically, it is acceptable to check out within 30 minutes after the official check-in hour without any hotel workers chasing you down.
There can be times when you will want to stay in the room for much longer, such as waiting for your next flight. Then, a late check-out fee may apply. Certain hotels will start charging a late check-in fee 2 hours after the stated time while others may give you 3 hours or only one.
The exact fee can be half or one-third of the day rate. Some hotels will fix an amount, rather than charge you in proportion to your room’s rate.
You should contact the hotel about a late check-out as soon as you can so the hotel can reserve the room for you. If you only inform them the same day as you check out, they may not be able to fulfill your request as the room can already be assigned to another guest and they don’t have available rooms. Then, you are forced to leave at the set time.
Can You Leave Your Bags At The Hotel?
In case you can’t check in early, the hotel can keep your big suitcases in their storage unit. It is unlikely that your hotel will ask for a storage fee for same-day collection. You can leave the bulky items behind and head to the city for a full day of fun before coming back.
It’s important to know that leaving your bags at the hotel does not equate to checking in. You have not gone through the check-in process yet and must come back within the official hours (if any) to complete the procedures.
For checking out, you can also leave your luggage and collect it later. Next time you have a late flight, you don’t have to extend your booking for half a day to keep your personal belongings safe. You are free to visit more attractions – luggage-free!
With careful planning, late check-ins should not be a cause for concern. Do your research and choose a reputable accommodation. Keep your hotel informed about unexpected situations.